Computers, televisions, printers and similar devices should, by 2010, consume no more than one or two watts when on stand-by. From 2013, that level should then be lowered even further to 0.5 or maximum one watt.
The rules, proposed by the Commission in its Regulation to reduce the energy consumption of electrical appliances used in homes and offices, were approved yesterday (7 July) during a vote in a special regulatory committee composed of member-state representatives. The committee was formed as part of the implementation of the EU's 2005 eco-design of energy-using products (EuP) directive.
The electricity savings produced by the lower watt levels would be equivalent to the yearly electricity consumption of Denmark and would prevent up to 14 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, according to Commission calculations.
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs called the move a "concrete contribution to reach the EU's energy efficiency and climate protection targets while saving citizens' money".
Energy efficiency improvements are widely considered to be one of the most effective ways of reducing the energy intensity and environmental impact of economic activity in the EU. But Brussels and national administrations have been criticised for not doing enough in this area (see EurActiv 07/07/08 and 02/07/08).
The European Environment Bureau (EEB) reacted positively to the vote. "We are pleased to finally see the EuP Directive delivering concrete results. This measure to cut energy losses from stand-by was long overdue and represents a clear, if small, first step toward greener products in Europe," the EEB said in a statement.